Libertyville High mourns two students, recent grad, retired staff member
Feelings of thanks have turned to sorrow for students and staffers at Libertyville High School with the deaths of two students, a recent graduate and a retired staff member.
Libertyville-Vernon Hills District 128 officials scrambled over the weekend to deal with the news and ensure counselors were on hand Monday when students returned to classes after the holiday.
Junior Madelynn "Maddy" McInerney and 2016 graduate Zachary Neir both died Friday as a result of medical conditions. Sophomore Fatima Durrani died Saturday. Students and staff members attended services for her Monday, but school officials had no further comment.
Therapy dogs will be brought to the school today, and counselors will lead staff support sessions during lunch hours. Also, the student council is planning a remembrance activity, and a moment of silence will be observed at Wednesday's home basketball game.
"These losses are sure to raise many emotions, concerns and questions for our entire school, especially our students," Principal Marina Scott said in a letter to parents.
"At our school, we have social workers and counselors available for any student who may need or want help or any type of assistance surrounding these losses. We encourage you, as parents, to also feel free to use our resources."
Common trauma reactions, understanding teen grief and other resources are linked in the letter.
The deaths came two weeks after the loss of Joshua Church, who attended Warren Township High School but swam on the private Cats Aquatic Team of Vernon Hills. He died of undetermined natural causes after a practice at Vernon Hills High School.
"We've never had anything like this. It's heartbreaking," said Mary Todoric, spokeswoman for the district.
Counselors from Vernon Hills High and a support agency were assisting Monday, she said.
"It's been a rough weekend. We have had a number of student losses at Libertyville High School and we're kind of processing all of it," Todoric said.
McInerney, 17, died after a long struggle with glioblastoma, a series of malignant brain tumors diagnosed in 2014. Despite her illness, she was very active and participated in cheerleading, bowling and the Best Buddies program.
"Maddy was an exemplary student, and her warmth, humor, spirit and love will continue to be felt," Todoric said.
Neir, 19, died of heart failure due to complications of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Todoric said. He was participating in a post-high school transition program while attending a class at the College of Lake County.
He attended LHS for four years and shared a quiet, reserved sense of humor. Considered gentle and kind, Neir was passionate about graphic arts, and some of his work is still posted on staff computers.
In addition to the three student deaths, retiree Maryjo Robins, who worked in the drop-in computer lab, died Sunday, Todoric said.